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First POST: Challenges

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, February 24 2015

How Silicon Valley donors are thinking about Hillary Clinton 2016; Yahoo's security chief locks horns with the head of the NSA; Instagram location data catches a Congressman with his hand in the till; and much, much more. Read More

Bad News Bots: How Civil Society Can Combat Automated Online Propaganda

BY Sam Woolley and Phil Howard | Wednesday, December 10 2014

Clever Script Kiddies (by DeNovo Broome, CC BY 2.0)

t’s no secret that governments and political actors now make use of social robots or bots—automated scripts that produce content and mimic real users. Faux social media accounts now spread pro-governmental messages, beef up web site follower numbers, and causeartificial trends. Bot-generated propaganda and misdirection has become a worldwide political strategy. In this guest post, Sam Woolley and Phil Howard suggest some ways to fight back. Read More

First POST: Battle for the Open Net

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, May 8 2014

Start-ups and big tech alike are speaking out against the FCC's draft net neutrality proposal; activists start an "Occupy FCC" protest outside its DC HQ and promise to spread it; a House bill to end some dragnet surveillance advances; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Fight Club

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, February 11 2014

More than 6,000 websites and organizations are "fighting back" against NSA mass surveillance today; Not included among them, Wikipedia, which was critical to the anti-SOPA/PIPA coalition; a new mobile app Secret seems in tune with the new privacy zeitgeist, or is it?, and much, much more. Read More


Saudi Arabia Blocks Online Petition to Lift Ban on Women Drivers

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, October 10 2013

An alternative headline

The drive to get Saudi women behind the wheel has been long and arduous. Women have been protesting the ban on women drivers since the early '90s. An online petition created in September has thrust the issue into the spotlight once more, with everyone from the religious police to pseudo-scientists weighing in. In what seems like promising news, three women, members of the council that advises King Abdullah, recommended earlier this week that the ban on women driving be lifted. But the country-wide blocking of the online petition suggests authorities are not yet ready to listen, in spite of their claims otherwise.

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New and Old Media Collide in Saudi Twitter Radio Station

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, September 10 2013

Several Saudi bloggers have launched a weekly, two-hour long program called Radio-Twitter, which takes cues and tips from Twitter trends. Radio-Twitter emphasizes news of interest to the young and connected population in Saudi Arabia.

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First POST: Not Clapping

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, August 14 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: How to protect your online communications; Bitcoin comes under federal scrutiny; Booker rises; Chicago wants to know if you're sick; and much, much more. Read More


In Saudi Arabia, an Online Campaign Raises Awareness of Violence Against Women

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, May 30 2013

Screenshot of photos from the Libra Facebook page

Only a few weeks after Saudi Arabia launched its first major campaign against domestic violence, another campaign has picked up momentum on social media. Sponsored by Libra Productions, the campaign slogan is “Hit her (I dare you).”

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Middle Eastern Telecom Accused of Working With Saudi Arabia to Spy on Citizens

BY Paul Mutter | Friday, May 17 2013

Screenshot from portal.

Mobily, an arm of the state-owned Middle Eastern telecom giant Etihad Etisalat, has been accused of working with Saudi Arabia to develop software that would allow the government to bypass protections for social media users. The exposé comes from Moxie Marlinspike (neé Matthew Rosenfield), an expert in a certain type of malicious Internet attack called MITM (man-in-the-middle), whereby attackers intercept and secretly alter private messages exchanged via email and other social media platforms. Read More


Top Saudi Cleric Calls Twitter "Corrupt," As Government Plans to Monitor Chat Services

BY Julia Wetherell | Tuesday, March 26 2013

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on an official U.S. visit at the White House (photo: United States Government Work)

Of all the Middle Eastern countries that have been touched by the Arab Spring, Saudi Arabia is known as one of the few where social media discourse has flourished, with Saudis from all walks of life sharing their experiences in the country on sites like Twitter, often under their own names.  That relatively open landscape may become more limited, after recent online outcry related to the criminal trials of several major political activists has brought forth a heated response from religious leaders and governmental officials.

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